The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/30/13 at 05:28 AM ET
As stated in the quick take, the Red Wings did not resolve any of their statistical issues on Tuesday night. They took 5 penalties, were out-shot in two of three periods, they still have yet to score a first-period goal, their power play is now a woeful 3-for-35, and they gave up the game's first goal yet again.
Statistics matter a little less when you win, however, and the Red Wings rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the Dallas Stars in convincing fashion, emerging with a 4-1 victory. The Wings definitely delivered a different kind of performance for Joe Louis Arena's crowd, and that started...At the start, when Jordin Tootoo chose to fight with Eric Nystrom just after the puck dropped at 7:38 PM (on very sloppy, soupy ice as we experienced spring-like weather in Metro Detroit on Tuesday and now early Wednesday morning, including sustained temperatures in the high 50's and thunderstorms), kicking off the game with a bang, and beginning a night in which Tootoo would engage in two fights and then earn significant playing time alongside Drew Miller on the Wings' fourth line.
Wings coach Mike Babcock was surprised with Tootoo's decision to drop the gloves so early, but he told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that he didn't mind it:
“I was expecting him to get on the forecheck, but he took it upon himself to have a couple bouts obviously and we don’t mind that either,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a guy that gives us a different dimension that we haven’t had and when he’s out there guys know that he’s out there.”
For the second time this season, the Wings’ scrappy fourth-line forward dropped the gloves three-seconds into a game when he tussled with the 6-foot-1 Nystrom before fans even had the chance to get comfortable in their seats.
“The first one was more to get a good start and get the boys fired up,” Tootoo said. “Just good, old-time hockey.”
Once Tootoo got out of the penalty box, he went and did the same thing:
Six-minutes after his first fight on Tuesday, Tootoo went after Dillon, a 6-foot-3 defenseman, for an incident that occurred in the Stars’ 2-1 win last week at Joe Louis Arena. After Tootoo sent Stars defenseman Philip Larsen flying into the corner boards last week, Dillon immediately went for Tootoo, who was more interested in getting off the ice following a long shift than engaging the rookie.
“I have a good memory of what happened last game and he was the one who asked me to go. It was game on,” Tootoo said. “When you’re at the end of your shift and you have someone asking you to go that’s a rookie move and that’s what he did.”
If Dillon had a grudge, it carried over to the first period Tuesday, and this time Tootoo was ready for him when the two crossed paths following a face-off deep in the Stars’ zone at 16:11.
By far, Tootoo-Dillon was the night’s marquee bout. Tootoo seemed to gain an edge by staying in tight against Dillon, despite giving up six-inches of height to the 22-year-old rookie. The two pugilists threw a bevy of haymakers and landed a fair share. But Tootoo seemed to wear Dillon out by landing several heavy body punches to the ribs.
“Basically, I was trying to protect myself from not getting hit,” Tootoo said, “and just kept whaling.”
The Wings weren't necessarily off to the races thanks to Tootoo's fights, however, and the Dallas News's Mike Heika explains why in something of a "quick take":
First Period: Dallas earned four power play chances, but couldn’t cash in and it cost them. The Stars had an 11-7 edge in shots on goal, including five shots on the power play, but it simply could not muscle a puck past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. It would eventually come back to bite them. The Stars also had their first two fights of the season, as Eric Nystrom and Brenden Dillon each fought Detroit’s Jordin Tootoo.
Stars 0, Detroit 0
Second Period: For the second consecutive game, the Stars scored first. Dallas had an awkward line change, but Jaromir Jagr found Cody Eakin coming off the bench, and Eakin pushed a hard shot on goal. The rebound came straight off to Loui Eriksson, and he buried a shot for his third goal of the game at the 10:22 mark. However, Detroit came right back at the 13:14 mark, as Pavel Datsyuk picked the pocket of Jordie Benn and set up Valtteri Filppula to tie the game. Henrik Zetterberg then gave Detroit the lead on a 5-on-3 power play goal with 23.8 seconds remaining in the period.
Detroit 2, Stars1
On the first goal against, Pavel Datsyuk also jumped onto the ice, and after Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson both got caught standing still at the Wings' blueline while Eakin blew past Kronwall, both followed Eakin toward the left faceoff dot, and that left Eriksson wide open to rip the rebound of Eakin's shot past an otherwise stellar (as usual) Jimmy Howard.
Third period: The Wings just poured it on, and ran away with the game. Detroit rookie Damien Brunner made a high tip of a Johan Franzen shot from the point for his third goal of the year to make it 3-1. The shot was reviewed for a high stick, but ruled a good goal. Then, Datsyuk worked his magic again, with a saucy cross-slot pass for an easy Filppula goal.
Detroit 4, Stars 1
Instead, despite stellar goaltending from Kari Lehtonen and a superb penalty-killing unit of their own, the Stars were unable to score at the end of the first period, when they had a 5 on 3 thanks to a strange penalty Niklas Kronwall took for essentially pushing Brendan Morrow off the puck, and, as they told DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski, Dallas's initial inability to score came back to bite them in the collective rear:
The Stars had their own power play chances earlier in the game, when Detroit took four minors in the first period and gave the Stars 39 seconds of five-on-three time. The Stars failed to capitalize on a night when they were playing the second game of a back-to-back set, and an early lead would have been huge.
“We definitely needed to get one there with the five-on-three,” said Stars forward Loui Eriksson. “We have to do something better there. That can win us the game.”
The Stars did get the lead, scoring midway through the second when Eriksson banged home the rebound of a Cody Eakin shot on an odd-man rush. But the Red Wings bounced back to tie less than three minutes later when Pavel Datsyuk stole the puck from Jordie Benn behind the Dallas net and set up Valtteri Filppula, who scored from the slot.
After taking the lead on the Zetterberg power play goal, the Red Wings got goals from Damien Brunner and Filppula 23 seconds apart early in the third period to put the game away.
The loss pushed the Stars to 2-4-1 on the season. These first seven games came over a hectic 11-day stretch to open the lockout-shortened season.
“At the end of the day, we need results but we’ve got to keep forging ahead because when you don’t, that is the moment you stall,” said Gulutzan. “There were some good things tonight in a back-to-back, you can see on the shot clock and a few things like that. We’re coming, we’re going to push and we’re going to get to where we need to go. I’d rather go through our growing pains now, get our game in order and make our push at the end. It’s still a lot of games. We’re going to keep pushing”
The Stars actually out-shot the Wings in both the first and third periods, but after Zetterberg's goal, the Wings were in charge for the rest of the way, and while the Stars had some dangerous chances in the final minutes of the game, Howard's steady play allowed the team to put itself on cruise control, bank away 2 points, a 3-2-and-1 record and a day off on Wednesday before the team practices on January's last day and begins a slate of 3 games in 4 nights--against the Blues--to start February's 28 days and 15-game schedule.
Stepneski also spoke to Brenden Dillon about his fight with Tootoo:
Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon on his fight with Detroit’s Jordin Tootoo: “Just playing hard and what happened the last game (Tootoo hit on Philip Larsen) is in the back of your mind, but at the same time it was just one of those things to try to get the guys going.”
The Associated Press's recap will serve as our pivot point from the Stars' perspectives to those of the Red Wings, and again, the Stars were indeed playing sharp hockey throughout the game...
All six of Dallas' previous games this season were decided by one goal, but the Stars couldn't keep this one close in the third after playing at Columbus the previous night.
"Saw some good things here coming off back to back, like the shot clock," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "See some good things coming."
Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for Detroit, which outshot Dallas only 27-26.
But the Red Wings were a little sharper, and they were led by someone whose still-healing right knee has allowed him to be excused from practice on an almost everyday basis:
Pavel Datsyuk stickhandled around a defender and sent a perfect pass across the front of the goal. All Valtteri Filppula had to do was shoot into an open net, and he had no problem scoring his second goal of the game.
"Whenever he has the puck, you can always expect it's going to come your way," Filppula said. "I've obviously played with him for a while now, but still, every once in a while you get surprised."
Filppula hadn't scored and was struggling to provide supplemental scoring while pressed into service as a second-line center--a position in which he seems to become preoccupied with his defensive responsibilities--having registered 3 assists (that ain't bad but ain't great given that he posted 22 goals and 66 points last season), so Filppula readily admitted to Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples that breaking through came as something of a relief for someone who was starting to make both his fans and his coach a little nervous:
“Yeah, it felt good,” Filppula said when asked about his team scoring four straight. “I think we played a pretty good game today, stuck to our plan and were able to score enough goals to win, and that’s the important thing. We definitely need these wins.”
Filppula – named first start of the night – scored twice off highlight-reel goals from Datsyuk, his new linemate. Babcock shuffled the lines for Tuesday night’s contest, moving Filppula to left wing on the Datsyuk and Bertuzzi line.
“Fil’s a huge talent for us; we need him to be a high-end scorer for us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He hasn’t been practicing, he’s got a few bumps and bruises, but he found a way to play here today and really helped our team win.”
Filppula deferred credit for his goals to Pavel Datsyuk while speaking to MLive's Ansar Khan, but Khan did a fantastic job of explaining why Filppula's break-out is so very noteworthy (Khan offers a quote-free take on the game, too):
Said Filppula: “Whenever he has the puck, try to get ready and you can always get it. Try to shoot it right away.''
Filppula had career-high totals of 23 goals and 66 points in 2011-12, playing mostly on the wing with Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler.
“Fil needs to shoot and Fil needs to score,'' Bertuzzi said. “He's that good of a player. I'd put him up there in elite status on our team. He's a guy we count on to produce offensively.''
Babcock groused at the media when asked whether Filppula does indeed believe that centers should play defense first, insisting that Filppula can succeed at the position...
“It just wasn’t going (with Filppula at center), so we changed things up and now it’s suddenly going,'' Babcock said. “He’ll play in the middle again sometime this year, but right now he’s on the wall with Pavel and that’s not a bad spot.''
But there's more than team success at stake here:
Filppula not only needs to score for the team, but also for himself. He is in the final season of a five-year deal, earning $3.5 million ($3 million salary-cap hit). The Red Wings would like to sign him to an extension before the end of the regular season, before he can become an unrestricted free agent in July.
“I haven't had to think about (his contract) too much, just focused on playing,'' Filppula said. “Obviously, I love it here and it's been good, but we'll have to see what happens.''
As Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji notes, the Red Wings have more problems than the ones listed at the beginning of this entry, and their biggest problem might be the one that seems to plague them at the beginning of every playoff run: the team has yet to adjust to this year's crackdown on obstruction and interference, and that's yielded a veritable parade to the penalty box.
That's a problem for teams with good penalty-killing. It's deadly for those who are missing their best penalty-killing forward in Darren Helm (back, out for at least another week, probably more like two or three) and stink on ice in terms of killing penalties:
Through six games, the Wings have 34 minor penalties, four fighting majors (two courtesy of Jordin Tootoo Tuesday) and two 10-minute misconducts. Last season through six games, the Wings had 22 penalties and two fighting majors.
The Wings came into Tuesday's game ranked 29th in the league on the penalty kill, having allowed eight goals in 25 chances. The Wings held the Stars to no power-play goals in five attempts Tuesday night.
"We had a lot of time to practice it (Tuesday), took penalties," Valtteri Filppula said. "But PK was good. It's really important to play like that and hopefully we can keep going on that, too, because you get a lot of penalties both ways so you need your special teams working."
Coach Mike Babcock was pleased with the way his team killed off the multitude of penalties.
"I said to (assistant coach Bill Peters) today that I thought that was the best that we’ve done pressure-wise since probably '09," Babcock said. "I thought we did a real good job. Good on Pete he’s got those guys organized and really making it hard on the other teams going after them."
In theory, anyway, the Wings have some time to iron all of their issues out as long as they keep piling up points, as Jimmy Howard suggested to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
"You can tell guys are getting more and more comfortable playing with each other again and with the new guys in the lineup as well," said goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 25 saves. "We just got to continue to work hard and find ways to get two points every night."
Valtteri Filppula (his first two goals of the season), Henrik Zetterberg (power play) and Damien Brunner scored for the Wings (3-2-1).
Loui Eriksson scored for the Stars (2-4-1).
Brunner and Filppula scored 23 seconds apart in the third period to essentially put the game away. Brunner scored his third of the season at 6:15, redirecting a Johan Franzen shot from the point.
But there are still bumps in the road ahead, as the Free Press's Helene St. James suggests, all while noting that Tootoo does indeed bring a lift to the team in more ways than one...
“I feel great,” Tootoo said with a smile as he sat at his locker afterward. “Let’s get after it again — I still have one more fight in me.”
Howard had a good laugh when asked about Tootoo’s fighting, saying, “I don’t know if we’re used to it yet. We’re not really used to seeing that. But, Toots, he goes out there and sets the tone for us. Whether it’s a big hit or dropping the gloves there, he got the crowd into it early for us.”
Otherwise the Wings spent most of the first period shorthanded, including for a 39-second 5-on-3 stretch that required the expertise of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, along with big defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, as Niklas Kronwall was in the box. The Wings’ penalty killers far outshone the power-play units, which failed to register a shot on net when they got on the ice in the opening minute.
Howard made 10 saves to keep the Stars at bay, while the Wings made it six straight games without a first-period goal.
Not only did they not score in the first period, they didn’t score first, either. Filppula had a good chance at his own rebound early in the second period, but it was Loui Eriksson who showed how it’s done, getting a clean look at Cody Eakin’s shot for a goal midway through the second period.
And while Damien Brunner's emergence had Babcock almost gushing with praise while speaking to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“He looks like a hockey player to me,” Babcock said of Brunner. “He shoots. He goes to the net. He’s getting better defensively. We feel we’ve found ourselves a pretty good player. We feel real fortunate when we saw him and we were able to convince him to come here. He seems like a good fit.”
There's Filppula's knee to worry about...
“Obviously it’s been a lot of games so between games it hasn’t been too much time to rest,” Filppula said of his knee injury. “I’ve had to take practice days off and that’s not always the best thing but so far, I’m happy that I’ve been able to play all the games. Hopefully the knee starts feeling better as well.”
And as peachy keen as Howard believes the team to be...
“It’s important for us to have depth up front, scoring, not just rely on a couple of the guys,” Howard said. “With Fil, he did a good job finding the soft areas on the ice and Pav found him.”
Filppula pointed out that "getting started on time" seems to be another problem that the Wings need to "get fixed":
“I think we didn’t start as well as we wanted to,” Filppula said. “Even though last game we played in Chicago we played an OK game. That’s the most important thing, trying to keep getting better every game. I think today was a good game and hopefully we can build on it.”
The Wings are now 3-2-and-1, which isn't particularly bad for a team that's had to deal with massive personnel changes and a litany of injuries, but it isn't fantastic, either, and that 3-2-and-1 record means that the Wings' 7 points are 3 behind the St. Louis Blues' 10 (and the Blues play, ironically enough in Columbus on Thursday night) and five behind the Central Divison-leading Chicago Blackhawks' 12.
Detroit's wrapping up its first month of action with a month and/or 15 games to go before Ken Holland and company decide to adjust the personnel mix, and tied for sixth in the Western Conference is only gonna get you so far. It's early yet, but the Wings have to a ways to go in terms of getting their shit together...
But the Wings seem to understand that and seem to want to embrace the challenges ahead, as Babcock suggested to the Free Press's Helene St. James while discussing that awful, awful power play:
Babcock assembled a new second-power play unit of Filppula, Daniel Cleary, Bertuzzi, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, and counted on Bertuzzi to make it convert. "I guarantee he'll take the second power play unit personally and get that going, too," Babcock said.
Highlights: The Red Wings website's highlights are narrated by Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond:
We All Bleed Red on YouTube has uploaded both of Tootoo's bouts, too:
Fox Sports Dallas posted a clip of Gulutzan and Erikkson speaking to the media;
Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of Valtteri Filppula, Jordin Tootoo and coach Mike Babcock speaking to the media (I miss the Ken Daniels/Mickey Redmond recaps!)...
The Red Wings' website posted clips of Valtteri Filppula...
And Jordin Tootoo speaking to the media...
As well as coach Mike Babcock's post-game presser...
The Wings' website also posted a clip of Ken Kal speaking to NHL Live--for eight minutes...
They asked Petr Mrazek a question...
And Chris Chelios sat down for a chat with NHL.com's E.J. Hradek from Wayne Gretzky's fantasy camp in Las Vegas--for ten minutes...
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 19-image gallery (of Julian H. Gonzalez's photos);
The Detroit News posted a 21-image gallery (of David Guralnick's photos);
The Windsor Star posted, uh, six images from the game;
The Dallas News posted a 27-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a trio of AP images from the game in its Wings gallery;
CBS Detroit posted a wallpaper-sized image of Valtteri Filppula...from the Columbus game;
ESPN posted a 33-image gallery;
Shots: The Red Wings out-shot Dallas 27-26. The Wings were out-shot 10-7 in the 1st period, out-shot Dallas 13-8 in the 2nd and were out-shot 8-7 in the 3rd period.
The Stars went 0-for-5 in a total of 9:21 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-7 in a total of 9:18 of PP time, including 0-for-4 in 7:24 of 5 on 4 time, 1-for-1 in 36 seconds of 5 on 3 time and 0 for 2 in 1:18 of 4 on 3 time.
Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 26 shots; Kari Lehtonen gave up 4 goals on 25 shots; Richard Bachman stopped 2 shots.
The 3 stars were picked by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, and they were Henrik Zetterberg (3), Pavel Datsyuk (2) and Valtteri Filppula (1).
The Wings' goals: Filppula (1) from Datsyuk (5);
Zetterberg (2) from Eaves (1) and Kronwall (5), PPG;
Brunner (3) from Franzen (3) and Zetterberg (5);
Filppula (2) from Datsyuk (6) and Bertuzzi (1).
Faceoffs 36-24 Detroit (Wings won 60%);
Blocked shots 13-12 Detroit;
Missed shots 16-8 Detroit (total attempts 55-47 Detroit);
Hits 18-17 Detroit;
Giveaways an ugly 10-3 Detroit;
Takeaways 9-6 Detroit.
Individual stats, TMR style:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 13-and-5 (72%); Abdelkader went 10-and-6 (63%); Zetterberg went 6-and-7 (46%); Emmerton went 5-and-4 (56%); Filppula and Franzen went 1-and-1 (50%).
Shots: Filppula led the team with 6 shots; Brunner and Franzen had 3; Miller and Zetterberg had 2; every other Wing save Smith, Emmerton and Bertuzzi took single shots.
Blocked attempts: Kronwall fired 5 shots into Stars players; Ericsson had 2 attempts blocked; Smith, Kindl, Emmerton, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Brunner missed the net 4 times; Datsyuk, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 2 times; Cleary, Miller, Tootoo, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Filppula missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Miller and Ericsson led the team with 3 hits; Kindl, Cleary and Tootoo had 2; Smith, Huskins, Abdelkader, Eaves, Bertuzzi and Kronwall had 1 hit.
Giveaways: Kindl and Datsyuk had 2 giveaways; Smith, Cleary, Brunner, Quincey, Ericsson and Kronwall had 1 giveaway.
Takeaways: Brunner, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 2 takeaways; Smith, Datsyuk and Tootoo had 1 takeaway.
Blocked opponent shots: Quincey blocked 4 Stars shots; Ericsson and Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Kindl, Cleary, Datsyuk, Miller and Bertuzzi blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Tootoo took two majors for fighting; Kronwall took 3 minor penalties; Kindl, Miller and Zetterberg took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The team finished at a collective +10. Kronwall finished at -1; Smith, Huskins, Kindl, Datsyuk, Brunner, Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Filppula and Franzen finished at +1; Quincey finished at +2.
Points: Filppula had 2 goals; Datsyuk had 2 assists; Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Brunner scored a goal; Eaves, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Franzen had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 26:21 played; Ericsson played 24:34; Zetterberg played 21:21;
Franzen played 19:24; Quincey played 19:09; Cleary played 18:13;
Brunner played 18:08; Datsyuk played 18:04; Smith played 16:58;
Filppula played 14:59; Huskins played 13:32; Abdelkader played 13:06;
Kindl played 12:57; Bertuzzi played 12:29; Miller played 12:15;
Emmerton played 10:08; Eaves played 8:34; Tootoo played 7:58.
Red Wings Notebooks: Todd Bertuzzi got incredibly lucky in avoiding serious injury after taking a stick to his right eye on a follow-through by Stars forward Jamie Benn during Tuesday night's game (and yes, it should not have been a penalty per NHL rules, which state that follow-throughs on shots or passes are not "high sticks," but hey, Brendan Smith only drew 2 minutes and not 4 when he was high sticked because the refs didn't deem bleeding from the mouth to be "bleeding," and Henrik Zetterberg was assessed a chintzy tripping call on Trevor Daley right after Benn went to the box).
Bertuzzi only received a shiner and a cut above his eye for his trouble, and after rushing off to the locker room late in the second period and scaring the hell out of Wings fans everywhere, he returned for the third period. Bertuzzi told MLive's Ansar Khan that he understands how lucky he was...
“The blade of the stick came straight into my eye, so obviously, being around and knowing people who've been injured, you kind of panic a little bit, you don't know what's going on,'' Bertuzzi said. “It's your livelihood. I was a little bit worried, but our good doctors made sure I was fine before I went out.''
Bertuzzi, sporting a cut around his left eye, returned at the start of the third period and finished the game.
“I think I'm pretty fortunate,'' he said. “I still don't know what the extent of it is. I'll get it checked tomorrow to make sure everything's OK inside, but pretty lucky.''
Bertuzzi doubts the close call will convince him to put on a visor.
“I never really worn one,'' he said. “I know it's probably stupid. People will call me stupid for not wearing it. I played many years, and it's a tough adjustment to do. I know it's a stupid comment to say.''
But his coach was unimpressed with his player's stubbornness, as he told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
After two scaring incidents with his eye, Kris Draper finally forced himself to finish his career wearing a visor. First, a stick glanced his eye that made Draper put on a visor. He later took it off and was hit with a puck on his right eye.
Long-time captain Steve Yzerman also suffered a scratched cornea and broken bone just below his left eye in 2004.
“Wearing a visor might be a good thing,” Babcock said. “I’d hate to see that happen to a guy because that could change your life forever. That’s part of the game, but a visor would fix that.”
One of the subtexts of Tuesday's game involved the match-up between Brendan Smith and his brother, Reilly. Somewhat ironically, while growing up in suburban Toronto, Brendan was a Maple Leafs fan, while Reilly cheered for the Wings. Both spoke to the Windsor Star's Bob Duff about their familial sporting pedigree, as well as their parents' allegiances, or the lack thereof:
“We played three times in the American League, too, and I think he’s got the edge on me now,” Reilly said.
Along with Rory, 25, a defenceman with the National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth, all three brothers have reached the major-league level in their chosen spot.
“It’s pretty cool,” Brendan said. “My parents are pretty ecstatic about it. I think they brag about us a lot. I know my grandfather (Lester Smith Sr.) does. We always felt we were going to be successful and play. I mean it was always a dream, and I guess when you’re young you just always think you’re going to make it.”
Brendan, Detroit’s top draft pick in 2007, was All-American at Wisconsin playing for Windsor’s Mike Eaves. Reilly, who was a Hobey Baker finalist last year while playing NCAA with Miami (Ohio), was leading the AHL Texas Stars in scoring at the time the NHL lockout ended earlier this month.
“He’s so talented and I know how hard he’s worked through all the years of watching him and helping him out,” Brendan said. “I’m just impressed that he made the jump.”
The hardest part now is left for the family, determining who to cheer for when Brendan and Reilly go head to head.
“I don’t know who they actually root for,” Brendan said. “I think it’s hard for them to cheer for one of us.”
“Usually, they layer their clothing in Dallas and Red Wings stuff,” Reilly added. “It’s pretty funny. I think they just want both of us to play well.”
As for their sibling sporting rivalry, well, Brendan offered the following to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
“My parents used to tell us that when we’d have our friends over, our friends would quit early, because they couldn’t keep playing with us because we were too competitive or too rough,” Smith said. “They end up going upstairs and hanging out with our parents and it was always just us three left down in the basement.”
Did anyone ever get hurt in the rough basement games?
“We’d get in a little trouble when somebody would come upstairs with no teeth or whatever,” Brendan Smith said. “It was fun, but at the same time, there were some bumps and bruises.”
The hockey-playing Smiths spent the NHL lockout in the American Hockey League, Brendan with the Grand Rapids Griffins, and Reilly with the Texas Stars. Tonight is the fifth time that the brothers will face-off this season.
“I can’t let him get two steps up on me,” Brendan said, “so we’ve got to win tonight.”
in the injury department: Joey MacDonald (back) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) skated on Tuesday, but Colaiacovo told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that he's a ways away from returning from his injury:
“I want to be out there as bad anything right now,” Colaiacovo said. “But it’s good motivation for me to keep myself going, keep working off the ice, and get it stronger.”
Colaiacovo said the injury – it’s an AC joint injury – is is the same shoulder he hurt in December while playing in the Spengler Cup. Ironically, it was a hit by current teammate Damien Brunner that brought on the first injury.
“I knew right away it was the same shoulder,” Colaiacovo said. “It felt worse. It’s frustrating but I just have to come to the rink, put a smile on my face and work my butt off to get back in the lineup.”
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose provides an update regarding Darren Helm's status...
Helm made his season debut in the Wings’ 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild last Friday. He registered a game-high four hits in more than 12-minutes of ice-time, but Helm’s night didn’t end pain-free, and after Saturday’s practice he felt worse.
“The game felt fine,” he said. “It felt a little stiff near the end just sitting around. The next morning I woke up, it was fine. Just the skate – when I starting getting out there, halfway through – the time where I got off it started hurting. I did a little stretch and it kind of kept flaring up.”
Helm visited an orthopedics spine specialist on Monday, and had a MRI, which showed no signs of structural or disc damage.
“It wasn’t a disc. It wasn’t a worst-case scenario, so you have to take one positive out of that,” Helm said. “It’ pretty much right in the back, which is a good thing. It’s not a bulging disc or anything, which would be a worst-case scenario. It didn’t hurt before when I was skating. Then it started to hurt, so it’s a little different than before. I have to be able to skate or I’m not very affective.”
And there is, of course, some small irony in the fact that Filppula spent the morning skate talking about being unable to practice due to a sore right knee...
“Obviously it bothers me a little bit, but I don’t think about it too much during the games,” said Filppula, who sprained a MCL in November while playing in Finland during the NHL lockout. “I feel that I can play well without thinking about it. Hopefully, I can start practicing too and get rid of (the pain) altogether.”
With the addition of Swiss star Damien Brunner, the coaches decided to move Filppula back to a wing and onto the second line where he’s opposite Todd Bertuzzi with Pavel Datsyuk centering the trio. Through five games though, Filppula has been held to three assists on nine shots.
“I think I can play better and hopefully I can start playing better as the games go on,” Filppula said. “I think that’s always the goal and hopefully get a goal in one of these days.”
"It felt good," said Filppula of the offensive explosion. "It's always important to get goals and I'm glad I got my first one. Definitely it gives me confidence. I'm happy."
In the personnel department, in a different vein, Kulfan noted that Brian Lashoff was benched for Jakub Kindl's sake...
"[Lashoff']s played well," Babcock said. "We're trying to get our power play going a little bit."
The unit Kindl is on didn't score, but Kindl played well overall, credited with two hits and was plus-1 in 12 minutes, 57 seconds of ice time.
"(Kindl) has to move the puck," Babcock said. "He's a skilled guy on the back end. He has to shoot, and the big thing is he has to grab a piece of the action. That's up to him."
And after the game, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes, Babcock issued a backhanded compliment to Kindl:
"I thought Kindl had a pretty good game for us," Babcock said. "Good for him, and he was competitive. When you challenge Kuba, that's always the challenge: You've got the skill set, but the skill set doesn't do anything. You've got to be competitive in this game."
Kindl has played 106 NHL games over the past three seasons, and he also showed improvement last year.
"Every year is a big year," Kindl said. "Nothing has changed. I've been here for three years, but I feel there's always little things I can work on and I'm trying to do that."
Krupa also noted that the Wings have received solid contributions from Kent "Popcorn" Huskins...
Newcomer Kent Huskins' career is an example of the fortitude NHL defensemen sometimes require. At age 33, Huskins has appeared in just 305 NHL games.
"You've got to kind of evolve with it and keep learning and keep picking up what you can on a daily basis," said Huskins, who was paired with Kindl Tuesday. "There's a fine line in knowing when to stay and when to go."
And as Krupa's article is about both Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson fulfilling their potential, Krupa notes that Ericsson--who played 24:34, blocked 2 shots, had 2 takeaways and levied 3 hits--is actually proving that he's worth Wings fans' tried patience's worth of time. Yeah, he, Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk were all standing in the wrong places during the play which led to the Stars' first goal, but otherwise, Ericsson has been nothing but solid as can be since returning from a shoulder injury, and that's very, very good:
With the Wings down five players to three and the Stars on the power play, Babcock put Ericsson on the ice as the lone defenseman with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and they killed off the first penalty.
"It's great to get the opportunity out there and to play in big situations," Ericsson said."That's always what you're striving to do. It's a lot of fun. I just feel that I haven't played in a lot of games, so it is going to take a couple of games for me to get into it. But that's the way it goes, sometimes."
Finally, we're going to go back to the beginning. I could only smile while reading this from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Not that it’s much of a surprise, but Red Wings fans are gravitating toward forward Jordin Tootoo.With two big fights in the first period of Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over Dallas, the sellout crowd at Joe Louis Arena was roaring and the Red Wings themselves looked more energized.
Some people have compared Tootoo to Dallas Drake, who played such a vital role for the Red Wings in 2008. Drake was probably a better all-around player. But Tootoo is likely a better fighter and bring a physical element to the game the Wings haven’t had in quite a while.
Many Red Wings fans seemed perplexed by the Tootoo signing. But now, gradually, he’s becoming a cult hero
From the Twitterverse, after Tootoo retweeted many Wings fans' words of congratulations and praise:
15 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 12
There is no question whatsoever that the loss of Nick Lidstrom has badly affected these guys, but they are still dangerous. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are both averaging a point per game, which they may need to do the rest of the year if the Winged Wheel is to stay a playoff team. Jimmy Howard hasn't been all that good in goal, but without Lidstrom in front anymore, that's not so surprising. The Wings also have had a ton of injuries so far, though most are of the day-to-day variety. They'll make a run at some point.
Jimmy Howard hasn't been that good in goal? Uh...Kay, I guess that's what box scores might suggest...
ESPN's Craig Custance held a chat on Tuesday afternoon, and here's what he had to say about the Wings' middling start:
John (Omaha, NE): Granted the hawks were playing their 3rd in 4 nights but how do you feel the Wings playoff chances after how they played in the Wild and Hawks games this week?
Craig Custance: There's a lot of pride in the Detroit dressing room and I think they showed it with the win over Minnesota and playing Chicago tough. They're defense is a major concern. I know they're injured but even when healthy that's not a particularly strong group. As currently constructed, they're a borderline playoff team. If they can tread water and add a d-man before the playoffs, I like their chances much better.
That seems to be the plan.
In the prospect department, the Grand Rapids Griffins just published their latest issue of "Griffiti," which includes stories about Brennan Evans, Tom McCollum, Adam Almquist, Chad Billins and Griffins timekeeper Norm Kolena, and on Tuesday evening, they issued their weekly press release. I'm going to post just a small portion thereof:
This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 1 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 2 - Abbotsford Heat at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 23 - Oklahoma City Barons 4 at GRIFFINS 5 SO - 24-12-2-2, 52 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Jan. 25 - Houston Aeros 1 at GRIFFINS 0 - 24-13-2-2, 52 pts. (1st)
Sat., Jan. 26 - Houston Aeros 5 at GRIFFINS 2 - 24-14-2-2, 52 pts. (1st)
Back to Work: The Griffins will resume their regular season schedule this week after a brief break for the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, which was held on Sunday and Monday in Providence, R.I. The Griffins return to practice on Thursday before departing for Hamilton to take on the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and returning to host the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday at 7 p.m. Despite dropping a pair of games to the Houston Aeros last week, the Griffins enter post-break play with a seven-point lead in the Midwest Division, ranking second in the Western Conference and tying for sixth overall in the AHL.
Hot and Cold: Despite boasting one of the most potent offenses in the AHL – currently ranking fifth with an average of 3.24 goals per game – the Griffins experienced an up-and-down month in the goal-scoring department. After being blanked 1-0 by Charlotte on Jan. 16, the team racked up 21 goals over its next three games, winning a rematch against the Checkers 5-3 on Jan. 17, setting a franchise record for goals in an 11-6 win at Rockford on Jan. 19 and besting Oklahoma City 5-4 in a shootout last Wednesday. However, the Griffins suffered their second 1-0 loss in a five-game span, falling to the Houston Aeros on Friday after a late second-period goal by Justine Fontaine. Chad Billins and Riley Sheahan lit the lamp for the team in Saturday’s rematch, but Grand Rapids dropped its second straight to Houston with a 5-2 loss.
Thank You, Fans!: Griffins fans packed Van Andel Arena this weekend, as the team sold out on Friday and Saturday against Houston. Friday’s sellout versus the Aeros was the Griffins’ second of the season and their first in a midseason game (non-opener/finale) since March 19, 2011. Saturday marked consecutive sellouts for Grand Rapids for the first time since it sold out four straight at Van Andel Arena from March 15-April 10, 2009. The Griffins currently rank sixth in the AHL in attendance, averaging 7,051 fans per game. Only Hershey, Lake Erie, Chicago, Providence and Toronto have drawn more.
And finally, as the Griffins have gotten shortchanged of late, via Michigan Hockey, here's their YouTube video recap of their Great Skate, held at Grand Rapids' Rosa Parks Circle:
Update: one more thing...Russia Today just posted an article stating that Pavel Datsyuk has registered 1,000 points. Datsyuk has in fact registered 726 NHL points over the course of 738 games, with 94 more playoff points eligible to add to the mix. If you add in every point Datsyuk's registered in the Russian Superleague, the KHL, the World Championships and the Olympics, you might get 1,000, but Russia Today's celebration is a bit premature.
Update #2: Aha! Sport-Express has declared Datsyuk to be a member of the Russian 1,000-point club because they did add all of those numbers together. They posted a really nice photo gallery spanning Datsyuk's pro career to commemorate the event.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.